American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command

By Edgar F. Puryear Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8: Delegation

If your subordinates cannot do [the work] for you, you haven't organized them properly. -- General of the Army George C. Marshall

You must avoid passing on to the commanderpetty decisions. . . . Get away from the shovel handle and out of the ditch [to] oversee the workmen on the project. -- General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold

At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, General Eisenhower flew in to attend the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting at the now famous Mina House Hotel. There he briefed the men on future operations, primarily the plans for the invasion of France, code-named Overlord.

General Marshall was concerned about Ike's tired appearance and suggested that he take a vacation for several days. "If your subordinates cannot do [the work] for you," Marshall told him, "you haven't organized them properly."

Marshall was a superb delegator in his relations with Ike as D-day commander. When Eisenhower went to Europe in 1942, Marshall told him, "You don't need to take or keep any commander in whom you do not have full confidence. So long as he holds a command in your theater, it is evidence to me of your satisfaction with him. The lives of many are at stake; I will not have you operating under any misunderstanding as to your authority, and your duty, to reject or remove any that fails to satisfy you completely." 1 Marshall never violated this rule.

Throughout World War II, Marshall also insisted that the Combined Chiefs (composed of American and British officers) not interfere with Eisenhower's conduct of operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. He objected strenuously whenever the Combined Chiefs attempted to issue orders or advice directed to any field commander.

In January 1945,just prior to the Yalta Conference, top Allied generals met at Malta. The most important item on the meeting's agenda was probably the strategic plan for concluding the war

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American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1: Selflessness 1
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 2: Decision 44
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 3: "Feel" or "Sixth Sense" in Decision Making 77
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 4: Aversion to "Yes Men" 108
  • Notes 140
  • Chapter 5: Books 142
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 6: Mentorship 188
  • Notes 233
  • Chapter 7: Consideration 236
  • Notes 259
  • Chapter 8: Delegation 261
  • Notes 282
  • Chapter 9: Fix the Problem, Not the Blame 285
  • Notes 299
  • Chapter 10: Reflective Descriptions of Character 301
  • Notes 335
  • Chapter 11: the Pattern 338
  • Notes 362
  • Index 367
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